Nancy Maule: Notable Coastside Environmentalist




In 1980-81 I interviewed Montara environmentalist Nancy Maule at her Montara home for “The Mystery of Half Moon Bay”. I don’t know what I expected but she looked like a stern schoolteacher. As soon as she began talking it was obvious that she was not only passionate about her beliefs but she knew the history of environmentalism on the Coastside.

A proposed freeway helped fuel Nancy’s activism (she didn’t drive a car when I met her). She recalled hosting a meeting in her living room organized to fight the freeway, with the preservation of open space the objective.

Nancy’s group considered the possibilities of a federal reserve stretching from Milagra Ridge to the north all the way south to Highway 92, encompassing some 40,000 acres.

“When we first arrived in the 1950s,” she told me, “there were no development plans. It was quiet until the early ’60s. Then we heard [Henry] Doelger had huge plans to develop.”

[Doelger was eyeing Princeton-by-the-Sea for what he envisioned as a “Polynesian Village”, with all the “tropical” trappings you can imagine].

There’s a local legend, Nancy said. “Doelger brought the president of the Bank of America to one of the hilltops, waved his hand, and said: ‘Eureka! We’ve found it! Here’s my new city’. The Bank of America president thought it was a great idea.

“….The only plans effectively carried out can be seen in Half Moon Bay—which delineates the philosophical attitude between Half Moon Bay and the rest of the Coastside,” Nancy said, adding that “All growth comes to pass in Half Moon Bay.”

Note: Nancy Maule’s group of activists successfully picketed Henry Doelger’s project at Princeton. The big developer’s plans for a “Polynesian Fishing Village” fell through but he did construct a housing subdivision across the way, on the east side of Highway 1.